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Paradox of Differentiating World-Renunciation - A Girardian Reading Ilkwaen Chung

Handong Global University Leopold-Franzens-Universitt Innsbruck (2009-10, post-doc)

For a detailed discussion, see my other publications Deconstructing the Buddhist Philosophy of Nothingness - Ren Girard and Violent Origins of Buddhist Culture ( ) Paradoxie der weltgestaltenden Weltentsagung im Buddhismus- Ein Zugang aus der Sicht der mimetischen Theorie Rene Girards (Beitrge zur mimetischen Theorie 28), LIT Verlag 2010

Violent Undifferentiation in World Renunciaiton

In his seminal essay World Renunciation in Indian Religions that was given as the Frazer lecture at Oxford in 1958, Dumont has interpreted the unique character of world-renunciation in India and the ambiguity of sacred world-renouncer as the extra-mundane individual in the complicated reciprocity with homo hierarchicus of the caste society from the socialological or anthropological viewpoint. 1 Following Dumont, Collins argued that the psychological and ontological dichotomy of sasra and nirva in Buddhism could only be understood in the light of a sociological apperception of the fundamental social dichotomy between the man-inthe-world in his house, and world-renouncer oriented towards homelessness and nothingness. 2 In world-renouncer, according to Dumont, a special kind of sacredness is reserved. With his negation of the world and his asceticism, the sacred world-renouncer represents that very reversal of values which we expected to find in festivals. 3

Louis Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus. The Caste System and Its Implications (Chicago and London: University of Steven Collins, Selfless Persons. Imagery and Thought in Theravda Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus. The Caste System and Its Implications, 279.

Chicago Press, 1980).


Press, 1982), 264.


The literature of early Indian Buddhism primarily reflects the values of world renouncers. 4 The world renouncing values of the Buddhist renouncer represents the undifferentiating reversal of values that are expected to be simulated in sacrificial festivals. The complete reversal of values during festivals is replaced by a division of labour that is characteristic of the Indian order. The violent undifferentiation during festivals is specialized and represented in the sacred life of world-renouncer. 5 Much of the endeavour of the worldrenouncer may be seen, according to Parry, as an attempt to recapture the original state of nondifferentiation and to re-establish the unity of opposities which existed before the world began. The yogis immobilisation of mind, body, breath and semen represents an attempt to attain samdhi, a timeless state of non-duality in which there is neither birth nor death nor any experience of differentiation.6 The non-differentiation of world-renouncer can be read as a crisis of undifferentiation in the mimetic theory. Later we will interpret the transgressive undifferentiation of (radical) worldrenouncer in the sense of the undifferentiating crime of reconciliatory victims. Girard argued that the thematics of myths and of rituals reveal a transition from a structure of undifferentiation to a differentiation that is achieved by the radical elimination of the victim. Girard is in agreement with Lvi-Strauss who has recognized in the myth a movement from undifferentiaton to differentiation. 7 Lvi-Strauss believes that the aim of ritual is to achieve undifferentiation for its own sake, but Girard considers the cultural undifferentiation and conflictual madness that constitutes the initial phase of many rituals as the preparation for sacrifice. The crisis is seen as a means to assure and to reproduce differentiation.8 The world-construcing, namely differentiating role of world-renuncer can be well understood from the standpoint of mimetic theory. Hierarchy in actual fact culminated, according to Dumont, in its contrary, the renouncer. 9 For Girard, the victim is the matrix of difference and plays the structuring role. Paradoxically the world-renouncer is responsible for

Rita M. Gross, Buddhism After Patriarchy. A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism (Albany: See Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus. The Caste System and Its Implications, 278-9. Jonathan Parry, Sacrificial Death and the Necrophagous Ascetic, in Death and the Regeneration of Life, eds. Ren Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with J.-M. Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with J.-M. Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus. The Caste System and Its Implications, 194.

State University of New York Press, 1993), 31.

5 6

Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 86-7.

Oughourlian and G. Lefort (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987), 108.


Oughourlian and G. Lefort, 28.


all the innovations in religion and in philosophy that India has created. Dumont maintained that the sacred institution of world-renunciation can be viewed not only as a kind of safty valve for the functional stability of caste-differentiation, but also as a reservoir of creativity. World renouncer was not only the safety valve for the Brahmanic order,10 but also creative agents in Hinduism and Buddhism. Paradox of civilizations based on the world-renouncing orientations11 can be well explained in the sense of the paradox of transition from the chaotic undifferentiation to the differentiation through the genetic mechanism of reconciliatory viticms. The culture produced by this differentiating mechanism will possess a structure based upon asymmetry and difference. And, this asymmetry, hierarchy and the differences form what we call the cultural order. That is how order comes out of disorder. 12

Sacrificial Interpretation of World Renunciation

The anti-structutre of world renunciation in India was a sacred reality.13 The sacred anti-structure of world renunciation belongs to forest (araya). In Vedic India, and more generally in brahmanic India, the dichotomy of village (grma) and forest (araya) is omnipresent. The forest is not defined in any positive way, but rather as something that is missing. It is the absence of a village, the empty space delineated by two divergent paths, an undifferentiated and unexplicated break in continuity. 14 Having renounced the world and entered the forest, kyamuni Buddha followed the negative way of the forest renunciation. He is a ramaa, wearing the garb of a mendicant, begging his food from the laity, and dwelling

10 11

Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus. The Caste System and Its Implications, 279. Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, Die Paradoxie von Zivilisationen mit auerweltlichen Orientierungen. berlegungen zu

Max Webers Studie ber Hinduismus und Buddhismus, In Max Webers Studie ber Hinduismus und Buddhismus. Interpretation und Kritik. ed. Wolfgang Schluchter, surkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft, 473 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1984), 333-360; See also Ilkwaen Chung, Paradoxie der weltgestaltenden Weltentsagung im Buddhismus. Ein Zugang aus der Sicht der mimetischen Theorie Ren Girards, Beitrge zur mimetischen Theorie 28 (Mnster, Germany: Lit Verlag, 2010).

Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with J.-M. Patrick Olivelle, The Origin and the Early Development of Buddhist Monarchism (Colombo: Gunasena, 1974), 4. Charles Malamoud. Cooking the World: Ritual and Thought in Ancient India, trans. David White (New York:

Oughourlian and G. Lefort, 312.

13 14

Oxford University Press, 1996), 75, 81.

in the uninhabited forest (nirjanavana) in no fixed abode. 15 Buddhas principal successor is also depicted as a paradigmatic forest saint, dwelling in solitude, wandering from place to place, and preaching a dharma of forest renuniciation. 16 The culturaltheoretical reading of paradox of differentiating world-renunciation in Buddhism in the light of mimetic theory is helped by the sacrificial interpretation of renunciation. The initiation ceremony of world renunciation and even the lifestyle of worldrenouncer are analysed as a sort of transposition of sacrifice to the interior of the person.17 The institution of renunciation is often thought to be emerged as a protest against brahminical orthodoxy. But world renunciaition, as Heesterman maintains, seems rather to have fitted themselves into the orthogenetic, internal development of Vedic thought.18 World-renouncer his violence against himself, since he has placed his sacrificial fires within himself, and so internalized his rites.19 World renunciation constitutes the ritual and therefore the civil death of the renouncer. 20 The world-renouncer dies to society. He has no longer a social status. His funeral rites are already performed. The renouncer, being outside caste rules, is an object of awe as holy, but is also impure, so far as normal social contact is concerned. The renouncer whose whole life is a sacrifice is permanently outside society, never returning to the human world from the sacred sphere of chaotic forest into which his renunciation has put him.21

Process Philosophy and Voidness of World Renouncer

Originally nothingness, voidness and emptiness in Buddhism was the soteriological, namely world-renoucing values of buddhas and bodhisattvas. Nothingness is of world-renouncer from forest and is only seen from the the point of view of yogic experience, not of normal persons in village. But the originally world-renoucing voidness of Buddhist renouncers has been

Reginald A. Ray, Buddhist Saints in India. A Study in Buddhist Values & Orientations (New York: Oxford Ray, Buddhist Saints in India. A Study in Buddhist Values & Orientations, 64. Malamoud. Cooking the World: Ritual and Thought in Ancient India, 106. J. C. Heesterman, The Inncer Conflict of Tradition. Essays in Indian Ritual, Kingship, and Society (Chicago: The Malamoud. Cooking the World: Ritual and Thought in Ancient India, 83, footnote 53. Patrick Olivelle, The rama System. The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution (New York: Oxford Collins, Selfless Persons. Imagery and Thought in Theravda Buddhism, 63.

University Press, 1994), 49.

16 17 18

University of Chicago Press, 1985), 39-40.

19 20

University Press, 1993), 207.


decontextualized and then misunderstood, for example in the sense of modern physics, of deconstructionism, of process philosophy and so on. As King pointed out, the tendency to make Buddha into a great scientist needs to be critically evaluated. 22 His (world-renouncing) insight into the insubstantiality and impermanence of all nature processes was thought to indicate his complete mastery of the principles of modern physics. This is clearly a confusion of an intuitive, qualitative sense of the flux of nature, with the fully specific determination of physical dimensions and relationships within the nature, which is the material of science. King has rightly aurged that this is on a par with the attempt to equate Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity of Ecclesiastic with the Einsteinian formulae of relativity. 23 But nothingness has no physical meaning in the sense of atomic voidness. It was soteriological concept. 24 Conze has rightly emphasized yogic presupposition of Buddhist thought and philosophy. Buddhist philosophy is yogic philosophy. Many soteriological concepts are seen from the standpoint of yogi and come from yoga-experience. 25 It was the worldrenoucing concept of renouncers with his meditation on voidness and emptiness. This radical decontextualization of emptiness from world renunciation can be read against the background of rapid modernization of Buddhism. In trying to distance themselves from popular superstitions and redefine Buddhism as a philosophical system, Buddhist scholars adopted the rationalization and demythologization. This ideological clean-up, according to Faure, led to a drastic reinterpretation of the Buddhist tradition. Buddhist notions of emptiness (nyat) and codependent origination (prattya-samutpda) suddenly took a scientific character. The Heart stra was even compared to Plancks constant. 26 With the help of radical anthropological rereading of Buddhist nothingness and emptiness within the original context of world renunciation, the conceptual confusion is to be reexamined. Religious experience and scientific experiment move on different levels and are only most superficially to be called equivalent. The attempt to equate the two leads only to confusion. This conceptual confusion is obvious in some of the contemporary attempts to make Buddhism

Winston L. King, A Thousand Lives Away. Buddhism in Contemporary Burma (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press. King, A Thousand Lives Away. Buddhism in Contemporary Burma, 145. Edward Conze, Buddhistisches Denken. Drei Phasen buddhistischer Philosophie in Indien (Frankfurt: Insel Verlag, Conze, Buddhistisches Denken. Drei Phasen buddhistischer Philosophie in Indien, 15, 18. Bernard Faure, Chan Insights and Oversights. An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition (Princeton:

1964), 145.
23 24

1988), 82.
25 26

Princeton University Press, 1993), 99.

scientific throughout. 27 In spite of superficial congruences between the process philosophy of A. N. Whitehead and Buddhist thought, there are essential differences between two diametrically opposed programs of endeavor. Process philosophy is intellectual, but Buddhist philosophy is anti-intellectual. Conceptual thought of any kind is relegated by Buddhism to the level of "conventional truth", which is essentially delusive or false when seen from the standpoint of "ultimate truth", namely world-renouncing truth. But Whitehead's program is premised on the inherent validity of conceptual thought.28 In spite of its affinity to Buddhism, Whitehead's view is profoundly Western. Unlike world-renouncing and anti-intellectual Buddhism, Whitehead does not seem to deny the positive value of ordinary experience. 29

Deconstructionism, Buddhism and Girard

Some superficial parallels in the deconstructive philosophy of J. Derrida and the Buddhist philosophy were drawn. Derridean negation and the Mdhyamika prasaga (reductio ad absurdum) are understood to be comparable in the sense of the negativity at work in both traditions. Both are considered to proceed from linguistic deconstruction to critiques of ontotheologies. But behind these two kinds of deconstructive textual practices, there are different philosophical agendas. Mdhyamika deconstructions and self-deconstructions follow a clearly directional path, defined by step-by-step advancements and negations of lemmas. The Mdhyamika tetralemma effects a radical negation of all existing positions and, if seen from these positions, represents a "non-sensical" position. A leading Chinese Mdhyamika thinker undertakes the self-deconstruction of this Mdhyamika tetralemma, he continues to follow the path of reductio ad absurdum and reaches a hexa-lemma: neither-affirmation-nor-denial-ofboth-being-and-nonbeing. His hexalemma itself seems to exemplify the most mind-taxing, the most non-sensical of the Mdhyamika non-sense. 30 All things are void, including the utterance of the teaching of voidness. The self-deconstruction in Buddhist negative dialetic to be read anthropologically, namely as
27 28

King, A Thousand Lives Away. Buddhism in Contemporary Burma, 144. Robert F. Olson, Whitehead, Mdhyamika, and the Praj pramit, in Philosophy East and West 25, no. 4 Charles Hartshorne, Whitehead's Differences from Buddhism, in Philosophy East and West 25, no. 4 (1975), 409. Cai Zongqi, Derrida and Seng-Zhao: Linguistic and Philosophical Deconstructions, in Philosophy East and West

(1975), 449.
29 30

43, no. 3 (1993), 394, 400.

the world-renouncing logic of negativity which was the (sacrificial) logic of world-renouncers. Logic of (soteriological) self-deconstruction is to be read in terms of world-renouncers Dharma that will be discussed later. Unlike Derrida, Mdhyamika Buddhists do not see their deconstructive non-sense as a consequence that needs justification. For them, such non sense helps lead to enlightenment beyond language and conceptuality. Their deconstructive endeavors are geared to none other than dawning of Nirvana upon the transcendence of language and formalistic. Girard considers deconsruction as a formalism, an evacuation of content in favor of linguistic play. Girard reproves formalist exclusivity and tendency for its implicit nihilism, arguing for a return to content of historical, social, and psychical meaning. 32 Instead of formalistic and linguistic preoccupation with Buddhist voidness, the recontextualization of Buddhist emptiness into world renounciation and rediscovery of anthropological content of nothingness is needed. In his work Theory and Its Terrors, Girard criticized the celebration of form and formalistic and idealistic bias in literary studies during the time of avant-garde. Formalistic studies were, according to Girard, becoming more and more unsubstantial. Girard maintains that this background is necessary to understand why the new European methodologies of structuralism and deconstruction as represented by such figures as Barthes, Lvi-Strauss, Foucault, and Derrida were so successful in USA. And Saussurian linguistics became a means to confirm and reinforce the expulsion of content. (198) Post-structuralism continued to rely on structural linguistics to discredit the referentiality of all texts.33 conceptual thinking.


the similarity



deconstructionism of Derrida and sacrificial self-deconstruction of Buddhism seems to be only

Dharma of World-Renouncer and Emptiness

Unlike the formalistic or linquistic expulsion of world-renouncing content, we must trace back to the social anthropological content and context of Buddhist emptiness. Viodness war

31 32

Zongqi, Derrida and Seng-Zhao: Linguistic and Philosophical Deconstructions, 400. Robert Doran, Editors Introduction, in Ren Girard, Mimesis and Theory. Essays on Literature and Criticism, Ren Girard, Mimesis and Theory. Essays on Literature and Criticism, 1953-2005, ed. Robert Doran (Stanford:

1953-2005. ed. Robert Doran (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), xxiv.

Stanford University Press, 2008), 199.

dharma of world-renouncer. Girardian social anthropological deconstruction of Buddhist emptiness can be considered more radical than the linquistic deconstruction. The deconstructive critique of metaphysics, logocentrism, ontotheology, and the like, corresponds, according to McKenna, in its structure and dynamics to Girards critique of sacrificial practices. The occlusions and exclusions to which writing, the grapheme, are subjected, are comparable with the destiny of the sacrificial victim. It is as if Derrida describes as happening to the linquistic signifier something that Girard describes as happening at the foundation of cultural institutions. 34 Examining the pivotal terms in the analyses of Derrida, Girard see that beyond the deconstruction of philosophical concepts, it is always a question of the paradoxes of the sacred. This is also true for a reading of Heidegger. Everything that he says concerning being can also be said of the sacred, but philosophers will, as Girard argues, hardly admit this since they have no desire to go back beyond Plato and the pre-Socratics to consider Greek Religion.35 Not only being of Heidegger, but also of nothingess of Buddhismus is said of the sacred (le sacr) of the emptying world-renoucer. Emptiness is anthropologically to be explicated as world-renouncing values of bodhisattvas. The Bodhisattva, when practicing the Perfection of Wisdom does not perceive the existence of a Bodhisattva. Why is this? Bodhisattva is empty. 36 Therefore emptiness of renouncer is also sacrificial: the purpose of the emptiness meditations is said to be to abandon the ordinary idea of self and are sometimes linkened to the death of the (world-renouncing) meditator, as he dissolves his ordinary self into the dharmakya. 37 The anthropological reading of Buddhist nothingness in the light of mimetic theory means the more radical deconstruction that reaches the mechanisms of the sacred and no longer hesitates to come to terms with the surrogate victim. 38 Buddhist negativism is not to be understood as nihilism, but to be read anthropologically

Andrew J. McKenna, Violence and Difference. Girard, Derrida, and Deconstruction, (Urbana: University of Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with J.-M. Luis O. Gmez, From the Extraordinary to the Ordinary: Images of the Bodhisattva in East Asia, in The Christ

Illinois Press, 1992), 12.


Oughourlian and G. Lefort, 64.


and the Bodhisattva, ed. Donald S. Lopez, Jr and Steven C. Rockefeller (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987), 156.

Elizabeth Enligh, Vajrayogin. Her Visualizations, Rituals, and Forms. A Study of the Cult of Vajrayogin in India. Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with J.-M.

Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2001), 130.

Oughourlian and G. Lefort, 64.

from the viewpoint of negating and emptying dharma of world-renouncer. Renunciation, it is claimed, is a negative state- as its very name suggests a denial of all that makes society what it is. Renunciation is essentially a negative state constituting an anti-structure, a total rejection and the reversal of the value system of society. It is defined not by what it is, but by its rejection of the social structures. World renunciation is not defined which is not defined by its own dharma, but by the negation of the dharma of life-in-the-world. Its dharma consists in the denial of the dharma of society. 39 And world renouncer is the exception, who is defined by what he has given up rather than by what he does. His dharma consists of prohibitions rather than injunctions. 40

Buddha is burning: Interiorization of Sacrifice

The Budha is burning because he practices asceticism (tapas). 41 The cranial protuberance on the Buddha's skull (ushnisha) becomes symbolic of the enlightenment realised by a yogi and proceeds flames. Ushnisha is derived from ush to be flaming, to be fiery. This is to be understood in the process of internalization of sacrifice and of sacrificial fires. Through the ceremony of renunciation, sacrificial fires are not abolished, but rather internalized, inhaled. Sacrificial fires are made to mount back into oneself(samropaa), such that the renouncers own person thenceforth becomes at once the seat of, and the raw material for, a burning up, a permanent oblation, offered upon that internal flame. World-renouncer is often designated as a tapasvin, as one who heats himself up. Constantly performing the essential sacrifice, the cooking of the self, he renders useless and impossible the cooking of any substitute.42 In this context of internalization of sacrifice, the self-immolation through fire can be comprehended. The vogue of self-immolations through fire has been well studied in the Indian and Chinese contexts. 43 With mixed feelings toward the work of Girard, Orzech has


Patrick Olivelle, A Definition of World Renunciation, Wiener Zeitschrift fr die Kunde Sdasiens 19 (1975), 75, Patrick Olivelle, Sanysa Upaniads. Hindu Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation, trans. Patrick Olivelle

80, 83.

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 67.

41 42 43

M. Eliade, Yoga, Immortality and Freedom (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 332. Malamoud. Cooking the World: Ritual and Thought in Ancient India, 47. Bernard Faure, Visions of Power. Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism., trans. Phyllis Brooks (Princeton:

Princeton University Press, 1996), 206.

rightly analyzed an internalization of the process of victimage in many Buddhist selfimmolation. While Buddhism rejected the practice of Vedic sacrifice employing animal substitutes, it nonetheless adopted the underlying logic of the sacrifice. The sacrificial and violent model of Buddhist behavior originates in the Vedic tradition of fire sacrifice. The selfimmolations in Vietnam reenacted earlier Buddhist models, which in turn were based on a reworking of the Vedic Indian sacrifice. This sacrificial mythic and ritual structure have, according to Orzech, persisted for 3000 years. 44 Kleine also has interpreted many religious suicide and self-immolation in Buddhist history as a kind of hidden human sacrifice. 45

Transgression of the buddhas, bodhisattvas, and saints

Faure has pointed out the ideology of transgression and the apparent transgression of the buddhas, bodhisattvas, and saints. Transgression constitutes a determining hagiographical motif in East Asian Buddhist chronicles. There are two basic types of antinomianism: a naturalist or spontaneist tendency, according to which the saints hubris places him above ordinary moral rules as in the case of Tantric or Chan madmen; and a systematic ritual inversion of the rule. 46A paradoxical justification for Buddhist transgression appears in some Buddhist texts: one may kill, steal, and have sex to the extent that one realizes that everything is empty. 47 The Chan school, Faure argues, was held captive in this double bind, in which monks had to adhere strictly to the rule while being confronted with the higher model of transgression. 48 Undifferentiating transgression of buddhas ist to be read in the light of differentiating mechanism of scapegoat. All modern thought is, Girard argues, falsified by a mystique of transgression. 49


Charles D. Orzech, Provoked Suicide and the Victims Behavior, in Curing Violence: Essays on Ren Girard, Christoph Kleine, Sterben fr den Buddha, Sterben wie der Buddha. Zu Praxis und Begrndung ritueller Suizide

ed. Mark I. Wallace und Theophus H. Smith (California: Polebridge Press, 1994), 144-5, 152, 156.

im ostasiatischen Buddhismus, in Zeitschrift fr Religionswissenschaft 11. 2003. 34-39.


Bernard Faure, The Red Thread. Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), Faure, The Red Thread. Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality, 98, 100. Faure, The Red Thread. Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality, 139. Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with J.-M.

98, 100.
47 48 49

Oughourlian and G. Lefort, 287.


Transgression of Buddhist saints is to be considered as an undifferentiating crime of reconciliatory victims: The transgressor restores and even establishes the order he has somewhat transgressed in anticipation. The greatest of all delinquents is, Girard maintains, transformed into a pillar of society. 50 Bodhisattvas willingness to be punished for the violent acts he would force himself to commit 51 can be well understood from the viewpoint of scapegoat mechanism. Buddhas bad karma and his undifferentiating crime is also to be comprehended as a crime of reconciliatory victims: Buddha and the monks were forced to eat inferior food as the result of bad karma which the monks accumulated during one of the Buddhas previous lives. 52 The Buddha describes twelve previous lives in which he performed evil deeds, and states that these deeds resulted in great suffering. 53 It was karmically determined not only that Buddha would perform painful austerities but also that in a previous life he would slander a Buddha! Not only this Buddha, but also previous Buddhas too suffered bad karma. 54 Buddhas bad karma of his slandering an innocent Pratyekabuddha in a former life, of his slandering a bhiku of six psychic powers in a previous life out of jealousy, of murdering his brother for wealth in a former birth, of killing a visiting wrestler in a match, of knocking over the bowl of a Pratyekabuddha, and of his reviling the Buddha Kyap saying, Bald headed rma a, enlightenment is difficult to obtain, 55 all these bad karma is to be interpreted as transgressive and undifferentiating crimes of reconciliatory victims. With regard to the hagiography of the saints in early Buddhism, there are some stereotyped themes that we may expect to recur in the hagiographies composed later and pertaining to later local saints, even in foreign lands. The saint is destined to a prolonged life of activitiy in this world, and this long presence is featured as a retribution for some evil karmic acts in the past. 56

50 51

R. Girard, The Scapegoat, trans. Yvonne Freccero. 1986. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 42. Gustavo Benavides, Giuseppe Tucci, or Buddholoy in the Age of Fascism, in Curators of the Buddha. The Study Jonathan S. Walters, The Buddhas Bad Karma: A Problem in the History of Theravda Buddhism, In Numen: Walters, The Buddhas Bad Karma: A Problem in the History of Theravda Buddhism, 76. Walters, The Buddhas Bad Karma: A Problem in the History of Theravda Buddhism, 87. Guang Xing, The Bad Karma of the Buddha, in Buddhist Studies Review 19, no. 1 (2002), 19-29. Stanley J. Tambiah, The Buddhist Saints of the Forest and the Cult of Amulets. A Study in Charisma, Hagiography,

of Buddhism under Colonialism, ed. Donald S. Lopez, Jr (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 176.

International Review for the History of Religions 37, no. 1 (1990), 83.
53 54 55 56

Sectarianism, and Millennial Buddhism. Cambridge University Press. 1984, 23.


Creative Renunciaiton in Envy Society

Through the social anthropological rereading of Buddhist emptiness in terms of renouncers dharma, the paradox of world civilizations based on the world-renoucing values and orientations was descriptively interpreted in the sense of the paradox of differentiating mechanism of reconciliatory victims. In spite of the sacrificial reading, the renunciatory wisdom of Buddhism, mainly its devotional potentials is to be acknowledged. We live now in the hot indifferentiation of envy society. The gradual erosion of every dharma, of every rigid social hierarchy and the increasing democratization of societies has plunged the modern individual into new mimetic crisis, deep into ever more extreme oscillations of desire and resentment.57 Following Nietzsche and unlike Zizek, Sloterdijk has valued the hygienical of Buddhist ethic of detachment in modern society of envious resentment. 58 But we have already analyzed the dionysian undifferentiation of festivals represented by the tragic heroes of world-renunciation in the light of differentiating mechanism of scapegoat. The psychotherapeutic pharmazeutikum produced by meditation of wildness in this age of undifferentiating globle villige is to be affirmed, without downplaying the sacrificial dimension of healing buddhas (pharmakos): Through self-immolation by fire, Bodhisattva Kemadatta literally became a living lamp. This tale of Kemadattas offering is identified as the recounting of a pivotal past life of kyamuni, the Supreme Physician. The flaming body of buddhas and bodhisattvas is an outer indication of the achievement of deep meditative trance.

Nirvana is the extinction of (sacrficial) fire on the side of world-renouncer, namely

the sacrificial death of tragic heroes. Nirvana means extinction of a lamp or fire. Just as the flame of a lamp struck by a gust of wind or lack of fuel disappears and cannot be traced, so also does a Buddhist saint freed from name and form disappear. We need non-sacrificial and creative renunciation. Girard is not unconscious of the sacrificial dimension that are hidden in the complete nirvanaesque renunciation (ce renoncement


Pierpaolo Antonello and Joo Cezar de Castro Rocha, Introduction: One long argument from the beginning to

the end, in Evolution and Conversion. Dialogues on the Origins of Culture, R. Girard with Pierpaolo Antonello and Joo Cezar de Castro Rocha (London: Continuum, 2008), 13.

Peter Sloterdijk, Erwachen im Reich der Eifersucht: Notiz zu Rene Girards anthropologischer Sendung, epilogue

to Rene Girard, Ich sah den Satan vom Himmel fallen wie einen Blitz: Eine kritische Apologie des Christentums (Mnchen: Carl Hanser Verlag, 2002), 247-8.

Raoul Birnbaum, The Healing Buddha (Boulder: Shambhala, 1979), 32.


nirvanesque total ). 60 The psychotherapeutic effect is only by-product of originally (worldrenouncing) meditation. 61 In terms of civilizational paradox of the world-constructing worldrenunciation and wisdom from forest, we can expect some positive, devotional and peacemaking capability from modern meditation-buddhism, without neglecting the violent paradoxes of the sacred represented by the world-renouncing specialists of the undifferentiating festivals.


See Leo D. Lefebure, Mimesis, Violence, and Socially Engaged Buddhism: Overture to a Dialogue,. In Heinrich Dumoulin, stliche Meditation und christliche Mystik (Freiburg-Mnschen, Alber Verlag 1966), 217.

Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 3 (1996), 122.